Widow charged in 2005 murder of Canadian investor

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico Fri Jun 6, 2008 4:32pm EDT

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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (Reuters) - The widow of a wealthy Canadian real estate investor and Internet gambling executive has been charged with planning her husband's 2005 murder in Puerto Rico, U.S. authorities said on Friday.

Adam Anhang, 32, the son of prominent Winnipeg lawyer Abraham Anhang, was stabbed and beaten on a street in Old San Juan after he and his wife dined together and discussed the terms of their divorce.

Authorities said a grand jury returned an indictment on Wednesday that charged Anhang's widow, Aurea Vazquez Rijos, 28, with conspiracy to murder her husband.

She offered Alex Pabon Colon $3 million for the hit, authorities said. Pabon Colon was also charged.

Pabon Colon has been in custody since April, but Vazquez Rijos is believed to be in Italy. The two face life in prison if convicted.

Jonathan Roman Rivera, a dishwasher who was sentenced to 106 years in prison for the murder, was wrongly convicted, U.S. authorities said.

"Justice should prevail for Jonathan Roman Rivera, who is an innocent man," said Luis Fraticelli, special agent in charge of the FBI's San Juan office.

Anhang, 32, developed real estate in Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory in the Caribbean, and founded CWC Gaming of Costa Rica, which had contracts with some of the world's largest Internet gambling companies.

Vazquez Rijos stood to inherit a portion of Anhang's $24 million estate if he died while they were still married. Had they divorced, she would have gotten $126,000 to $180,000 a year in alimony for two years or until she remarried, under the terms of their prenuptial agreement, authorities said.

U.S. prosecutors said Vazquez Rijos lured her husband to Old San Juan on September 23, 2005, to facilitate his murder.

The widow was slightly injured in the attack, but repeatedly refused to give testimony to police, which prompted local authorities to investigate her potential involvement.

Because no valuables were taken from Anhang, prosecutors discarded the idea of a random attack from the beginning.

Roman Rivera, a 24-year-old dishwasher at a restaurant Vazquez Rijos ran, was the only person arrested for the crime. Police said the two were romantically involved.

U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodriguez Velez said "credible and material evidence" of Roman Rivera's innocence has been turned over to the local courts.

(Editing by Jim Loney)

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